Bring Birds to Your Yard with These Plants

It’s only early March, but in Portland, Oregon, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the city has already had a few 70-degree days. Warming temperatures here and in many parts of the country are encouraging plants and trees to grow and flower earlier than usual; and while they’re lovely to look at, this trend is creating a growing mismatch between bloom times and the arrival of birds that depend on them. To help offset the problem, the National Audubon Society has created a Plants for Birds online database of native plants that attract and support local bird species.

All you do is enter your zip code, and the database delivers a list of local native plants, trees, shrubs and grasses that provide food, nesting and pit stops for hundreds of species of birds. It also lists Audubon support centers, native-plant nurseries, and retailers that sell native plants in your area.

Why Native Plants Matter

It’s tempting to fill your yard with exotic plant species from other countries—many of which are beautiful and highly pest resistant. However, these non-native varieties often provide less food for birds and can become invasive, outcompeting native species and degrading habitat. Using native plants, on the other hand, will not only attract more birds but also give them a higher chance of survival in the face of climate change and urban development. For example, planting honeysuckle will keep hummingbirds happy; woodpeckers love pines; and certain sparrows are drawn to blackberries and wild grasses.

To figure out the best bird-friendly plants in your area, and learn fascinating information on birds in general, visit audubon.org/plantsforbirds.

Article Image Credits: Top row, left to right: American Goldfinch on Purple coneflower. Photo: Will Stuart; Northern Mockingbird on Winterberry. Photo: Will Stuart; Black-capped Chickadee on Staghorn sumac. Photo: Missy Mandel/Great Backyard Bird Count. Bottom row, left to right: Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Honeysuckle. Photo: David Shipper/Audubon Photography Awards; Western Tanager on Douglas fir. Photo: Timothy Lenahan/Audubon Photography Awards; Rufous Hummingbird on Showy milkweed. Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS